McDermott lauds Ward impact
6:56am Saturday 24th May 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Leeds head coach Brian McDermott hailed the impact of Robbie Ward after the young hooker marked his debut with a try in a 20-6 win over Hull FC.
The 18-year-old was handed an opportunity as McDermott turned to a specialist number nine following last weekend's Magic Weekend defeat by the Wigan Warriors and he grabbed it with both hands.
Ward crossed late on to add to tries from Joel Moon and Brad Singleton as the Rhinos consolidated their place at the top of the First Utility Super League.
"He was very good, he really took his chance," said McDermott. "Robbie came in and had a huge impact on that game.
"The exercise of playing Chris Clarkson has worked but then we always knew that had a shelf life."
The match itself was littered with handling errors as both teams struggled with the greasy conditions at a rain-sodden Headingley Carnegie.
McDermott admitted he expected a scrappy encounter and was pleased to see his players roll up their sleeves to get back to winning ways.
"I think it was always going to look something like that, with Hull with where they are at - they are a dangerous beast at the moment - and then the weather," he added.
"The performance was good after last week. We've still got some tired men and have been through a very tough and busy period, a very intense period.
"Against Wigan last week, even though we were tired, we made that game a contest right down to the death.
"We have had to manage the players so for them to go out and fashion a win in the nature that we did was good."
Hull FC had the final word through Jamie Shaul's last-minute effort but it was another disappointing night for the Black and Whites as they slumped to a fourth successive defeat.
Head coach Lee Radford felt his men stuck to his game plan for an hour before falling away in the final quarter, when Singleton and Ward both touched down.
"It was never going to be pretty with the conditions," he said.
"What we set out to do I thought we did for 60 minutes. We wanted to put the ball dead as much as possible with their back three (Zak Hardaker, Tom Briscoe and Ryan Hall) returning the ball obviously we didn't want a broken field.
"There was a period in the game around the 60-minute mark when we just needed to keep the ball infield and play a little bit more but we didn't recognise that."
The Airlie Birds could end the weekend four points adrift of the play-offs, which would make next weekend's trip to the capital to face the London Broncos a must-win contest.
Radford said: "We need the two points as much as anybody in the competition right now.
"It's arguably our most important build-up to a game this week and we need to see that in what we bring to the training park."